Two Kooks » ALL RECIPES » Salad Recipes » Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad

Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad

Simple, hearty and healthy, Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad with spinach, cranberries and toasted sesame seeds is a delicious side or vegetarian meal.

The colors are beautiful, making it a perfect dish for a buffet table, holiday (including Passover) or dinner party. Get creative or use what you have on hand.

Quinoa and Glazed Butternut Squash salad

The recipe serves 4 good size main portions, but if you are serving the salad with a substantial protein, it can be stretched to 6.

Try serving the quinoa butternut squash salad with maple-balsamic rainbow trout, grilled BBQ chicken, salmon stuffed with lemon ricotta or sous vide flank steak.  Or add some sliced grilled marinated chicken  or crispy tofu cubes on top to make it a more substantial main dish. Here is a recipe on how to bake or pan fry tofu cubes (ignore the peanut sauce part).

Tailor To Your Taste


    • Substitute sweet potatoes for the squash. They will have more calories and carbs, but higher fiber and protein.
    • Add red peppers to roast along with the butternut squash.
    • Try chopped kale instead of baby spinach. Just remove ribs, chop and massage to soften. A peppery arugula would work well too.


    • Sprinkle cinnamon and/or cumin on the squash before roasting.
    • Use basil or rosemary instead of thyme.


    • Try adding goat cheese , halved cherry tomatoes, chopped green onions or chives
    • Feel free to use any nuts or seeds for crunch instead of sesame seeds. Roasted pecans, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pepitas are all good choices.
    • Increase the balsamic vinegar (good quality) or drizzle extra maple syrup, honey or balsamic reduction.
    • Pass with lemon wedges


  • Buy pre-peeled and pre-cut butternut squash. I do.
  • Buy pre-washed and dried baby spinach.

Make Ahead 

  • One nice thing about this salad it that it can be made ahead, earlier in the day.  Just let it sit on the counter while the flavors blend and serve it when you’re ready.

Other easy butternut squash recipes you might like

Butternut Squash in pan ready to roast

Glazed Butternut Squash in pan

sesame seeds toasting in pan

Quinoa and Butternut Squash salad in white serving bowl garnished with sesame seeds

close up of quinoa and butternut squash salad in a serving bowl p2

quinoa butternut squash salad on plate
Print Recipe Pin Save Recipe

Rate this recipe here

4.86 from 14 votes

Quinoa and Glazed Butternut Squash Salad

Simple, hearty and healthy, Quinoa and Glazed Butternut Squash salad with spinach, cranberries and toasted sesame seeds is a delicious vegetarian main dish or side.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Main Vegetarian dish, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 sides (or 4 mains)
Author: Cheryl


Butternut squash

  • 3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, cut in 1 inch chunks (about 400g)
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 2/3 cup water with 1/2 tsp salt added


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil (or more if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Other salad ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach (about 3 large handfuls)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (can substitute raisins or dried currants)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds Note 1
  • Optional garnishes: chopped roasted nuts, crumbled goat cheese, chopped green onions or chives, halved cherry tomatoes, drizzle of honey or maple syrup, squeeze of lemon, balsamic reduction drizzle


  • Preheat oven to 425F. Line a pan with parchment. Or use foil and spray it with oil.
  • ROAST BUTTERNUT SQUASH: Toss butternut squash with oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a bowl. Place squash in single layer on pan. (Set bowl aside to mix assembled salad later). Roast squash for 20-30 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized, tossing or flipping over half way through. Lately, I've been cranking the heat to 450F for the last 5-10 minutes to brown the squash more. Remove from oven and sprinkle with thyme.
  • MAKE QUINOA: (while squash is roasting). Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. Place in medium pot with 1 2/3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. and let the quinoa cool a bit. Add spinach to the warm quinoa and mix. Spinach will wilt. If you prefer to leave the spinach more crisp, let quinoa cool a bit first.
  • MAKE DRESSING: Put all dressing ingredients in a cup. Whisk to blend.
  • ASSEMBLE AND SERVE: In large bowl, combine quinoa-spinach mixture, cranberries, butternut squash and dressing. Gently mix together. Taste and adjust seasonings. Scoop into serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and other optional garnishes as desired.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

To Toast Sesame Seeds: Place seeds in a dry pan over medium heat. Shake pan every minute or two for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool. 
Make Ahead: This salad can be made ahead, earlier in the day.  Just let it sit on the counter while the flavors blend and serve it when you're ready.
Nutrition value estimates do not include optional garnishes. 


Calories: 216kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 408mg | Potassium: 456mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 7489IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?We'd love you to rate it above under 'rate this recipe' or in the comment section below. Thanks!

Here are a few other butternut squash recipes and  quinoa salad recipes you might like:

Red Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots Recipe

quinoa salad with roasted carrots on plate
This red quinoa salad is loaded with super healthy greens, roasted carrots and beets, topped with avocado and a delicious orange-balsamic dressing. Yum!
Get the recipe

Roasted Vegetable Salad With Quinoa (3 sides in 1)

tossed roasted vegetable and quinoa salad in bowl.
Think of this healthy roasted vegetable salad as three sides in one colorful dish - roasted or grilled vegetables, nutty quinoa and salad greens - all finished with a fabulous maple-balsamic dressing.
Get the recipe

Spinach Quinoa Salad With Beets

spinach beet quinoa salad on plate
If you're looking for a bold, colorful, earthy, nutritious, textured side dish, this Spinach Quinoa Salad with beets might just fit the bill. It's mixed with apple and avocado, then dressed with a light honey Dijon dressing for great flavors and a beautiful presentation. 
Get the recipe

Salad with Sweet Potato and Quinoa

salad with quinoa sweet potato nuts and goat cheese on plate
Quinoa sweet potato salad is a delicious hearty salad with wonderful contrasts of sweet-tang, soft-crunch and pastel-bold. Packed with interesting, yummy ingredients and textures, it's a feast for the palate and eyes. 
Get the recipe

Healthy Vegetable Quinoa Salad Recipe

veggie quinoa in serving bowl 2
This flavorful vegetable quinoa salad recipe is packed with healthy fresh veggies, pops with bold colors and is super versatile. Great for lunches, potluck or buffet tables.
Get the recipe

Butternut Squash Salad Cups

Here's a new way of serving a side salad that may raise a few eyebrows. Butternut squash salad cups showcase vibrant colors, contrasting textures and tons of crunch. And yes, they're delicious too.
Get the recipe

Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cinnamon Dressing

Beautiful, delicious and satisfying as a vegetarian main or side, butternut squash salad with caramelized onions, toasted pecans and warm cinnamon dressing will get rave reviews at your next holiday or dinner event.
Get the recipe


This recipe, originally published in 2016, has been updated with new information and images. 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating